In the last week of August of 2006, I got three emails and a few phone calls from families who were suffering from E. coli O157:H7. Some of them thought it was the bagged Dole baby spinach they purchased and consumed that was the source of the illnesses. Public health was silent. By mid-September the victims wound up being right and were the early links to an outbreak that sickened over 200 and killed at least five.
So, despite the assurance on the FDA website that there are no illnesses linked to the Wawona Packing Listeria recall of conventional and organic yellow and white nectarines, yellow and white peaches, black plums and pluots, the two dozen emails and calls I have received over the last few days has me worried. Several of the callers both are culture positive for Listeria AND consumed the recalled fruit.
First, if you or someone you know is having any of the symptoms – high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea – please seek prompt medical treatment. Listeria monocytogenes is not a bug to mess with. In the United States, the CDC estimates Listeriosis causes approximately 1600 illnesses and 260 deaths annually. A 2011 Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe sickened 147 and killed 33.
Second, I have done my best to search government, business and press sites to find out what has been recalled and from where. If you have a fruit product, ask the store where it was purchased if it is part of a recall, and “if in doubt, throw it out.”
What is Listeria? Listeria monocytogenes is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. See – http://www.about-listeria.com – for more information.
What fruit has been recalled? Recalled fruit consists of conventional and organic yellow and white nectarines, yellow and white peaches, black plums and pluots.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has posted a list of all fruits recalled to date from the Wawona Packing Co., including packing numbers, searchable lot codes and Block ID numbers. The agency has also posted photos of the clamshells, boxes and bags the recalled fruit was shipped in or packaged in for retail sale at a variety of stores under the Wawona brand, Harvest Sweet or Sweet 2 Eat labels. The FDA photo pages, along with company photo pages, also show product weights and corresponding UPC numbers for the recalled fruit.
Food Safety News reported that the following stores received the product and has reported recalls: Trader Joes, Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Krogers, Aldi and Wegmans. Over the last several days I found press and recall reports of fruit recalled from: Food 4 Less, Foods Co., Giant Food Stores, Martins, Hannafords, BJ’s Wholesale, Dillons, Smiths, Save-a-Lot, Fry’s, King Soopers, Stop & Shop, Big Y Foods, Ralphs, Whole Foods, QFC, Jay C, City Market, Bakers, Gerbes, Fred Meyer. Also, exported fruit to Canada and Australia has been impacted.
Lets hope this is not 2006 all over again.